Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ice Hockey on the Pond

After the recent cold snap, more then a week well below zero, i was invited by a guy from work to head down to the local pond for a little ice skating/hockey during lunch. Having never skated on a frozen piece of water before (only ever in a rink) i was a little sceptical when he was saying "it should be thick enough". He called me last night and let me know there were people skating on it so we were 'green for go'.

I was really happy when we came into sight of the 'pond', i'd call it a small lake, and saw heaps of people on it and also areas where no one had been so the ice was nice and fresh. So we parked the car, doned the skates and jumped on. I was very cautious at the start as I could see the thickness of the ice and was struggling to believe that only 10cm was required for skating. It just looked soooooo thin. Anyway after a few minutes i was feeling very confident and up to speed.

I was told that the ice was thinner on the edges so be careful when retrieving the puck from the edge. Well after a minute or 2 about 5 kids and few other adults came over and we started playing. At one point i had a big stack and heard a VERY LOUD cracking and was thinking i would be swimming but it was all good. Another bloke took a ENORMOUS fall where his skates went in the air and he fell strainght onto his arse on the ice. There was an almighty crack but again nothing. It was only when it was cracked that you could see just how thick it was. Where this bloke fell over it must have been 20cm + thick and totally safe.

Anyway we played for an hour or so they put the shoes back on and went back to work. What a great way to spend a lunch break
Anyway hope everyone has a happy new year

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cross Country Skiing

So with the recent cold snap (has been below zero day and night for 6 days) and a little snow in the mountains near Michaela's parents place we decided to head for my first x country skiing experience. We went with one of Michaela's school friends partners and i was borrowing some of his gear.
They had to explain to me that there are 2 types of skiing. Traditional style and skating style, and we were doing the skating style as the skis are set up differently for each type. I figured I can ski and I can skate therefore i should be able to skate on x country skis ..................... WRONG.

What an interesting sport and damn hard to get used to. After the first 50m i had been on my face or arse about 4 times and was starting to get really annoyed. So i took it slowly and started to gradually get used to it. It think my biggest issue was the different in ankle support. My ice skates have heaps of support (very stiff boot) where as these x country skis have almost none (comparitively speaking) and the ski has no metal edge which took me some getting used to.
Anyway after a hour and a bit we had done our 6km and was time for a soup. I had been sweating profusely, had taken my beanie and gloves off and was now sporting a frozen mo hawk as the -10 degree temperature had frozen my sweaty hair almost instantly. Classic.
Anyway, i wasn't great the first time but i was getting the hang of it by the end so perhaps i will give it another go.

Later this week i might be trying my first ever pond ice skating as the ice is really thickening up and some of the guys at work want to play hockey in our lunch break. Here is my xmas present from Michaela, a thermometer unit for indoor and outdoors. So in this image it is 17 indoors and -7 outdoors (has a sensor outside which transmits the temperature reading into the unit).

until next time

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The pig kill is coming

This weekend I find out if I am a man or a soft stomached weener boy who vomits at the first sight of blood.

I am hoping I am 'a man'.

Although I am concerned the pig kill is the day after the work xmas party where I am expected to consume alcohol. Perhaps I will be weener boy??????

Only time will tell

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Inconvienient Truth

As a youngster I was lucky enough to have parents that thought it was a good idea to send me skiing ans snowboarding as often as possible. Perhaps it was so they could have some "alone time" (wink wink) but I don't want to think about that. Anyway over this period I began to think that snow can only be associated with skiing, snowboarding and trips to Canada to visit the family ................ oooohhhhhhh was I in for a nasty return to reality when I walked outside to go to work to be met by a heavy snow storm.

I don't want to have to go to work in the snow this is depressing!!! I should be in my snow clothes frollicking through the fluffy powder making snowmen and pelting snow balls at unsuspecting old ladies. It appears this is my inconvenient truth .............. "Even when it snopws you still have to go to work"

Lesson 1
Getting leather souled business shoes to take traction in snow on a slight uphill gradiant is harder than getting peadaphelia charges to stick to Michael Jackson ................... its just not going to happen and the most likely outcome is either a torn groin muscle or a busted tail bone.

Lesson 2
In the Czech Republic, "no" means "yes" (seriously). In hindsight this has no revelance to snow but interesting none the less

Lesson 3
Despite looking totally ridiculous using an umbrella in the snow shower is very effective

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inter-racial relationships WTF

I have been noticing a pretty significant trend over here and even when in Australia. It seems that Aussie men are choosing Czech women but Aussie women aren't choosing Czech men. When you meet a expat in this country you make one of 2 assumptions about HIM.

1. He is married to a Czech woman or in a registered gay domestic relationship (defacto status isn't recognised in this country for hetero relationships)
2. He is on a lucrative expat contract and is being paid in GBP or Euro or USD and living it large in this country

I believe there are 2 reasons for this lack of Aussie women with Czech men.

1. The first and most obvious is i reckon Czech men really dove into the shallow end of the good looks pool. I am not trying to make out I am a Don Juan or Fabio, I am certainly not but i really think there is not much to choose from for the ladies. I had a really good joke with a gay Canadian bloke at work. I asked him why he was here, because he is a gay man living in a country were the men are ugly and the women smoking hot (my wife included :D) ................. surely there would have been a better country to choose from. We had a good laugh about this.

2. The second is that Czech women are phenomenal cooks (yes a big generalisation) and they spoil their sons rotten with good food. Michaela used to tell me stories about when she came home from school her mum would say the food is in the fridge. Yet 5 minutes later when her brother arrived home she would jump up from the seat and rush to the kitchen and make him some snacks. You just don't get this sort of treatment from Aussie women, especially girls from my generation. I was chatting to a friend the other night and his girlie tried to cook him a chicken and ended up shorting out the entire apartment block and undercooking the chicken. I SAY GIVE ME A CZECH WOMAN

Anyway, it is an interesting trend and out of the 10 Aussie women i know in this country not one of them is married to a Czech guy.

I will keep you updated on this observation

Monday, December 8, 2008

Night in the village pub

Well on Saturday night Michaela and I went to the pub in her parents village (300 person village). Good times in respect to the alcohol prices. $1 for a beer, $1 for a wine and $0.70 for a shot of Slivovice (damn nasty stuff). Well upon arriving I had every set of eyes on me as the whispering said "that's the Australian bloke that the Moukova girl married". I started getting asked questions about whether I sleep in a beanie/tuke because i can't handle the cold?

I had to quickly reply i only sleep with a beanie when my kangaroo won't let me sleep in it's pouch ............................ BLOODY REDNECKS HAHAHAHAHAHA (although they enjoyed the joke as well).

Anyway i started playing a czech game that resembles pool but there are no pockets and only 4 balls but the concept of angles etc is all the same.
Anyway about half way through the game against one of Michaela's friends husbands (Jirka), the peanut gallery of local redneck losers start making comments like "She couldn't find a bloke in this country so she needed to go overseas to find a husband". I thought it was quite hilarious the idiots didn't realise they were only putting shit on themselves by saying they weren't good enough, but there was nothing i could do to help the inbred hillbillies understand. That was fine but Jirka took it as an insult aimed at him and got all fired up. Unfortunately I doubt the 47 beers he had drunk would have assisted his fighting abilities so I had to quickly ease the situation with a mix stupid czech and pats on the back all round :D.
Obviously due to Jirka's intoxication and my perfect amount of "aiming fluid" i whooped his arse in the game ..................... TWICE (payback for a previous billiards flogging he handed me on his playstation).

Other then the idiots we had a great night and I got on great with most of the locals (with the assistance of my translator wife). The pub is an interesting place with a deers head mounted on the wall next to porn centrefolds which was a combination of pub memorabilia i have never seen before.
Before leaving the village to return to Prague i went to Czech on the xmas pig which is fattening up 'just nicely' and now weight in at a considerable 150kg and should put on another 10-15kg in the next 12 days. Good times.
Until next time

Xmas markets are here

Well about bloody time, I have been stinging for a Svařák (aka Gluhwein aka spiced red wine). The other night, the bride and I went to the city because the markets had begun and we had a great time. Prague's center is pretty at the worst of times but with a few markets, a cup of spiced wine and a sausage and you simply can't go wrong.

We strolled from stall to stall czeching (oh oh bad pun) out all the offerings and having a nibble here and there. Michaela had me try the roasted chestnuts and seemed quite pleased they weren't to my liking because she could then eat them all :)

We had a relaxing evening, if you call being amongst thousands of people crammed into the small city centre relaxing! They lite the Xmas tree but we didn't hang around for that. Of note was the fact that in Australia the big tree in the city centre is plastic where as here it is a real tree, I was pleasantly surprised by this.

Anyway thats it for this one, short and sweet just like the Svařák. I did try a Mead but from the look on my face you can tell what i thought of it

cheers until next time


Monday, December 1, 2008

It's Hockey Time

Well at a 30th B'day i was chatting to one of the Americans who plays AFL with me and he told me he plays pick up ice hockey on Sundays. For the Aussie's who read this, 'pick up hockey' is just social hockey where any one can play, all you need is a stick and either hire skates or buy your own.

Well, Sunday i went to the local sports store and purchased the cheapest stick i could get my hands on, about $20 worth, and headed off to the rink with my skates, stick and shin/knee pads (all bought 7 years earlier during my 6 months in Canada during the Hockey season). The great thing about pick up hockey is that it is non contact (heavy blows anyway) and there is a huge mix of talent so all are welcome. There were some seriously talented guys and some awesome kids about 8 years old that were skating rings around me....................literally.

Well to say i was rusty when i first hit the ice would be an understatement but after about an hours i had my skating improving and i was again comfortable defending while skating backwards. Defending is all i did as the teams were a little uneven and there appeared to be a team of NHL draft picks up against the local rag tag team. Obviously i was in the rag tag team.

It soon became known to all on the ice that the clumsy bloke was an Aussie so whenever i intercepted a pass or really did anything at all there would be a cheer come up from the subs from both teams. I think they appreciated a bloke from a non hockey country giving it a good go. Well the roof nearly came off when i got around my American AFL mate and scored a goal .................. then i did 3 victory laps then fell on my arse and slid into the boards. Instant Karma for being a dumb arse I guess.

Well I am really glad i found somewhere i can renew my hockey passion even if i am being blitzed by the locals. As an aside there was one bloke from Russia who did this fancy stick work and picked up the puck from the ice with his stick before flicking it from waste height straight at the goal. I had never seen anything like it and was in awe (along with everyone else there) for about 5 minutes. Anyway i gave him a good hit during the game and knocked him on his arse. He obviously didn't read the sign plastered all over me saying "Caution, Aussie who can't stop"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

An encounter with the Czech 'Policie'

Well tonight due to a late dinner with a friend from out of town I was forced to drive to the floorball rather than the reliable public transport. I plugged the closest metro station into the GPS (which is about 100m from the floor ball place) and headed off. I was 50m from the Metro station following the instructions from the GPS when I was pulled over by 2 Czech police walking down the street. As it turns out I was on a bus only road and was in BIG trouble (stupid GPS), I picked all that up from body language because sure as hell I didn’t have a clue what they were saying. They asked for my passport and I pulled out my Czech immigration books (looks like a passport only thinner and bright blue).
Here is the silly GPS that caused all my trouble
And the little blue ID book, which is a pain to carry around

They examined it then asked for a driver license so I tentatively pulled out my Australian NSW drivers license and handed it over. All was fine but then came the bad news. The offence normally carries a 2 demerit point penalty and a 2000CZK ($160 AUD) fine, but wait for it, ‘I got a special deal’. Tonight no points, no booked fine but I have to pay 1000CZK cash on the spot …………. hhmmmmmmmm………….is this my first taste of blatant Czech corruption????????

I politely let them know I only had 400CZK in my wallet so they told me, again through body language which kind of looked like the terrorist in ‘Team America: World Police’ (check out to see what I'm talking about), to go and find an ATM to withdraw the cash. What the hell was happening here? I was thinking it must be corruption, yet after I handed over the cash and they gave me my license and ID back they proceeded to write out a receipt. Were they tax conscious corrupt police?, were they collecting VAT/GST on this? I had no idea there was such a thing of corrupt police that kept records, hahahahaha.
Receipts for my CRIMES

Anyway with that done I jumped back in the car and went to floor ball where I managed to be the 5th wheel on whichever team I played for. I really felt like some of them needed a good hip and shoulder but I refrained.

Good thing there is no photo of me because I am terrible

Following floor ball I set the GPS for home and took off still wearing shorts and a t-shirt and got into a huge traffic jam with the assistance of the GPS (stupid good for nothing piece of ****). The traffic jam, as it turned out, was the police again but this time doing massive car searches. It seems every single car on one of Prague busiest street was being pulled over by a swarm of cops and searched (every part of the car was being examined) but luckily me and one car in front of me got through. I did not see another car get through without being pulled over.

Hmmmmm, it was an interesting evening, which could have turned into a catastrophe if I hadn’t been carrying my Czech ID. I have only been carrying it for the last 3 days

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter in Prague

Well it seems 'There must be an Angel’ and it was playing with my heart.

Because tonight I came home from perhaps 1 or 10 drinks with my lovely wife in the city and found an angel talking to me in the garden.

Yep that’s right folks , the spanner has tightened and the nuts are nice and tight because it is Coldsville in Prague at the moment as the mercury has dropped savagely below ZERO and the snow has started to fall.

Yesterday it was THIS


Today it is THIS

I had my first driving experience in the snow today after indoor cricket training where i faced the bowling machine at 85mph (damn thats a scary experience). Driving in the snow on the way home was interesting and let's just say the right foot got a really good lesson in brake sensitivity as the different between safe driving and 'lockup into the guard rail' is about ½ ounce of brake pedal pressure. So lets just say I was loving it. And remember I am in the car with the ZERO crumple zone.

Here are some photos of tonight’s snow fall. The first 2 are the garden with the snopw every where and the last one is the apartment complex drive way and boom gate with the snow covering it. Good times

Driving in the Czech Republic

URGGHHHHHHH where do I start???????
I will start with a scary statistic from the first 10 days of August but remember that August is summer and there is no ice on the roads. In the first 10 days of August 31 people died on Czech roads, which is a pretty terrifying statistic. It is a well known fact over here that Czech Republic has one of the worst driving records for fatalities every year of all European countries per capita.
From my personal experiences I have decided that most Czech people drive on the roads the same way that I drive on an Xbox……………..flat out with not a care in world. Unfortunately on the Xbox when you hit the road barrier at 300km/h you hit the ‘start’ button, scroll down to restart and begin again.

Just the other month Michaela and I were driving to her parents place about 90km from Prague and we had some idiot cross onto our side of the road in order to overtake someone. We were at the time in an overtaking lane and had almost passed a large truck so there was nowhere for us to go. The other driver realized at the last moment that there was in fact someone on the road in front of him and made a corrective move. There must have been centimeters in it. After I finished emptying my arse contents into my undies I got really angry and wanted to do a U-turn, chase the dirty MOFO and hit him with a tyre iron but I quickly realized that the massive horsepower of the 1.3L Opel Agila may not be up to the task of chasing down the large BMW.

I guess the scariest thing about the driving over here is that we are driving around in a car which has the structural integrity of an empty coke can, and that may in fact be a little harsh on the coke can.

The speed limit on the freeways is 130km/h but the almost ZERO visible police on those roads allows plenty of people to sit on 160+km/h without fear of recriminations. Once again I am restricted here by MASSIVE horsepower of the 1.3L engine – hahahahaha. On top of this the freeways in this country are very good and such speeds are easily doable if your car can take it.

Oh one other strange thing (well perhaps just different to Australia) is that if you have a crash over here you cannot move the car (even an inch) until the cops arrive so they can do a report for the insurance companies. This causes massive holdups on main roads even when someone only lightly bumps someone else in the rear. I understand the reasoning is to stop fraud but when there is already corruption in the police aren’t you just replacing apples with apples. HAHAHAHA I love it.

Oh one other thing, despite the horn on the tram sounding like a really friendly “hi” it actually means “GET THE PHUQ OUT OF THE WAY”. Stay out of the way of the trams because in battle of tram vs car the tram always wins
Until next time this is Gatesy signing off and preparing to drive to cricket training in a BLIZZARD

Monday, November 17, 2008

Czech police checks WTF

UPDATE: tonight on the news 17/11/08 there was footage of a riot near Michaela's home. The gypsies vs the NeoNazis and the riot police came in and subdued the battle with the help of water cannon trucks. And here i was thinking the riot police were an overkill

I have been noticing more and more often that Czech police prepare for the worst when they have to attends events.

We went to a Extraliga Hockey game a couple of years back and in between the 2 supporting groups were about 50 heavy armoured riot police. What the hell happens in the hockey games i thought. There were only about 1,500 people there and they need riot police.

Well on the weekend we had a nice pub dinner then went to a nasty little joint to play darts and pool. After a few cleansing RUM & COKES i noticed about 20-25 massive blokes walk into the bar. They were the locals cops and they were all wearing black miltary attire and they had come to maintain the peace. Once again there were only 50 people in the bar. They were big serious blokes who were not pleased about some stupid drunk aussie pestering them in some foreign about having his photo taken with them. HAHAHAHA got to love the drunk aussie. Anyway we found one who was more open to the idea. I thought it was quite appropriate i was wearing my 'DON'T HASSLE THE HOFF' t-shirt at the time
I wonder what other experiences i will have with the Czech Policie in the future, but i sure hope it doesn't involve the riot police

Oh look there is an Australian! I wanna see the Australian too

Sure it is to be expected in all large tourist centres throughout the world that everyone has seen an aussie but it SOOOOOO different in the smaller civilian areas. In these places the aussie is a drawcard and i seem to be finding it more and more often. Let me demonstrate

The other days we went to visit the in-laws and Michaela (my lovely wife) went to see a friend but I remained at her parents so i could get loaded with them and play cards. Anyway about a 1/2 hour later i get the call from the wife telling me that her friends had brought a group of there friends over as well to meet the 'aussie' and they had tried to cook aussie meals and learnt how to say G'DAY. Arh well TOO BAD as i was already loaded with her parents :).

Then on the weekend just past we went to a town in south east Czech Republic called Kroměříž (took me 4 months to learn to pronounce it) where we stayed with czech friends we met on our honeymoon. Anyway one of them got a call from their parents telling them to 'bring the aussie over' to there place. She replied by telling her parents they can't speak english and the parents quickly replied "all we need to do is give him schnitzel and potato salad and we will be communicating just fine". So sure enough we visited and 5 minnutes later i left there house with 1kg of potato salad and 2 Schnitzel...............hahahahahaha classic stuff but I still couldn't understand a bloody word she was saying.

Anyway i wonder how much more i will have to deal with this pseudo celebrity???????

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter Sports in the Czech Republic

Well it is getting to the time of year over here where the mercury drops and the spanner comes out to tighten up the nuts a little. The lack of metabolic action from the fish species makes fishing a NO GO especially if you don't have a warm pair of thermals a drill to get through the ice so it has to be inside sports. Saying that I have not exactly been overwhelmingly enthusiatic about catching carp. Sure they might go like the clappers when hooked but the week of burleying beforehand and the hours of non actions makes it quite unappealing.

So there is a very diverse and active indoor sports scene here in prague which is great especially with all the eye candy for the not so happily married blokes (which obviously counts me out :) isn't that right darling).

So tonight i made my first foray into the sports scene with a game of squash and lets just say after an hour of being run around the court by a fit irish blokes i was sweating like a peadofile in a kindergarten. A thoroughly great work out and i was stoked with the new racquet i purchased for my birthday which cost 450...............crowns (so about AUD$30) so I say the price is right.

Tomorrow i head off for cold beers, smoked sausage and a evening around the ice rink watching the Brother in law play in prague for his second division hockey side. I am starting to believe that perhaps beer and sausages should also be called an indoor sport.

On thursday i will be trying my hand at a sport called Floorball which is a super super fast paced game similar to ice hockey but it is played running instead of skating. Yep i don't think i'll be up for it either but i will try my very best. When it comes to my physical fitness i always say "YOU CAN'T POLISH A TURD" which i believe sums up my physical prowess. Anyway i will keep you all informed about my skill, or lack there off.

Until next this is Gatesy signing out